Got Beer? Reaching Beervana: There’s no suffering, but there’s plenty of desire

This is our ninth Beervana Fest preview (we hadn’t earned our Official Beer Writing Credentials when the first coupla fests took place). Waaaaay back in 2011, the 401 beer scene was taking baby steps toward the splendiferous bounty of riches we enjoy in 2019. At the turn of this decade, Beervana and the Great International Beer Fest (RIP) pretty much had the sampling-palooza field to themselves. Now we have the Rhode Island Brew Fest and Brew At the Zoo and the Craft Beer Races and the Brewers Guild throwdown and the Stadium Beer Fest and a slew of other hoppy gatherings.

So let’s get into the delirious details of the 11th Beervana Fest, which is still Rhode Island’s Unparalleled Beer Event (TM) (we’ve trademarked that phrase)! The elite event at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet in Cranston will be bigger and better than evah, moving from Friday to Saturday, October 26, and hosting two sessions (1 – 4:30pm and 6 – 9:30pm; tix are on sale now at eventbrite.com). The fest’s curators – Brian Oakley, co-owner of Julians and Mike Iannazzi, co-owner of Nikki’s Liquors – have amassed another astounding array. There are 60-plus tables repping 100 or so breweries (there are multiple and wide-ranging offerings at the Shelton Brothers Importers and Nikki’s Vintage Cellar), pouring more than 250 succulent beers (all numbers approximate; the lineup was still in flux whilst we were typing).

What about the beer-soaked details? You can study the list of breweries at facebook.com/beervanafest or on the opposite page, but there are some noteworthy beerists making their Beervana debut, including Hermit Thrush, Schilling, Interboro Spirts & Ales, Upper Pass and Barreled Souls.  At the fifth Beervana Fest in 2013, there were four RI breweries in the haus; this year, 14 of the state’s top beermakers will be repping the Ocean State. And Brian and Mike have whipped up a quartet of fest-only collabs with 401ers Buttonwoods and Sons of Liberty and Good Measure (Vermont) and Exhibit ‘A’ (Massachusetts). As you’ll see while parsing said list, it’s a bevy of ultra-rare/exclusive/unique/simply excellent ol-skool liquid gold poured by bizzers — owners, brewmasters, distributors — who pride themselves on raising the bar for better beer.

As we’ve noted at least a time or two in past previews, you can only make a small dent in the river of beer at ’Vana (though you can double your fun if you have the stamina to attend both sessions). So make a few notes, get a tentative game plan (and a safe ride lined up) – or just dive in and follow your instincts. But we have some time-tested expert advice: in our 2012 Beervana hype, we spoke with Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, which will be back at Rhodes on the 26th, natch. He suggested “starting with lighter beers and then ramping up. If you go sprinting directly for the heaviest, hoppiest, sourest barrel-aged blockbusters, you can blow out your palate for the whole [session] and really miss a lot. Pacing is important.” Truth!

Let’s review: At Beervana, you get to experience some of the world’s finest brews, compare notes with fellow enthusiasts and have a helluva great time. It’s still Rhode Island’s Unparalleled Beer Event(TM)!

Alas, this will be our final Beervana preview, and our last call in this space. We’re relinquishing our Official Beer Writing Credentials (and surrendering our pretzel necklace). It’s been a privilege to chronicle the ever-growing 401 beer scene in the pages of the Providence Phoenix (which expired five years ago – the time, it flies!), at the Bottles & Cans & Just Clap Your Hands blog and in these “Got Beer?” columns. We would like to express the deepest appreciation to all of the 401ers (particularly beer guru Chuck Borkoski) who have shared their insight, experience  – and, most notably, time – since we started scribbling about the biz in 2011. Cheers!




Got Beer? What’s Brewing? Swim into an ocean of beer news

Another “Got Beer?!” column, and another new brewery has joined the 401 craft crew! The General’s Crossing Brewhouse, at 34 Narragansett Ave in the heart of Jamestown, opened on August 23 – it’s the 28th brewery in the Ocean State. And yep, that’s the same address as Conanicut Brewing, the home-brewing/wine-making supply shop run by Will Tuttle and Tom McNiff, who have added “pro brewers” to their CV. The GCB proudly proclaims itself the “second-smallest brewery in Rhode Island.” The name is a nod to the auspicious day in March 1781 when General George Washington crossed Conanicut Island to plan the battle of Yorktown with the French – and the future-first-prez would have walked past their door if Narragansett Avenue existed 238 years ago. Will and Tom’s first offerings included a Caribbean stout, a cucumber/ginger kolsch, Conanicut Pale Ale and a Vietnamese lager. They’re having an Oktoberfest party on Saturday, September 21 (mmm, märzen!), if you need an excuse to check ’em out ASAP; visit ’em virtually at facebook.com/GCBrewhouse

It’s official: Narragansett Beer will be opening a new hotspot on the India Point Park waterfront. ’Gansett prez Mark Hellendrung said, “Since 1890, Narragansett has been Rhode Island’s beer. To have a brewery right at the top of Narragansett Bay that’s easy to get to in Providence and is connected to the picturesque India Point Park and the East Bay Bike Path is really a dream come true. As a kid, I lived a mile from the new brewery on Gano Street. I eventually moved across the river to East Providence and then returned to attend Brown University. This really feels like a homecoming for me. I can’t wait to add a new chapter to the already bursting Narragansett history books.” The taproom/beer garden/event space is aiming for a spring 2020 debut. The outdoor beer garden is slated for a spring 2020 debut, and the taproom should be ready in the fall. Huzzah to the “Hi, Neighbor!” crew!

Short stuff: Speaking of beer gardens, Shaidzon Beer Company will celebrate the last few official days of summer by christening its palatial outdoor space on September 21, with music all afternoon and night supplied by Back Track and DJ Donnie Dee (shaidzonbeer.com) … Community Bruinstill the state’s smallest brewery – is growing incrementally – they’re now serving full pours, including Down Under IPA, Mesquite-Oh! (a smoked porter), Slam Dunkel and Wood U?, which was made for the Ocean State Beer Festival … And be on the lookout for a sure-to-be hit beer from Grey Sail: Little Sister, a sessionable (4.5% ABV) sibling of the revered Captain’s Daughter double IPA (8.5%) that will be available the first week of October.

We did the Big Fall Preview thang the last time around, but here’s a quick reminder of the Big Beer Events on tap in the next coupla weeks (because who-the-heck can remember what they read two minutes ago, never mind two weeks ago?; hit the archive for more details). Gas up the Kia and get ready to get thee to these happenings: Buttonwoods Brewery throws a Oktoberfest bash on Sunday, September 22 … the Pawtucket Craft Crawl runs from September 22 – 28; hoist a glass at the Guild, Foolproof, Crooked Current, Smug, Rhode Island Spirits and White Dog Distilling and get a souvenir glass for your efforts (restaurantweekpcf.com/craft-crawl-2019) … the 7th Annual Stadium Beer Fest is on September 26 at the namesake theater in Woonsocket (unlimited sampling!; stadiumtheatre.com) … and the German American Cultural Society turns its Pawtucket HQ into an authentic Oktoberfest haus of bier and wursts on September 28 and 29 (gacsri.org). Get thee outta your haus and (figuratively) into a stein!

For more beer news, check Lou’s blog, bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com, or follow @BottlesCansRI on the Twitter machine.




Got Beer? Don’t Lose Your Head: Hit up these events sure to keep your pint glass full

Here’s a roundup of news for the last-two-official-weeks-o’-summer and the roundup of big beer doings a-happening when the temp starts dropping:

Buttonwoods Brewery will present its first annual Oktoberfest on September 22 (the big doings in Munich runs from the 21st through October 6). Brewmaster Morgan Snyder made a traditional-style märzen called (wait for it…) Oktoberfest! They’ll also be cooking a whole pig; tix will be available at buttonwoodsbrewery.com. And Morgan hosted Brian and Mike, aka, the Beervana Fest brain trust, to whip up a special brew for that big beer bash (see below). Morgan says, “Details are still under lock and key simply because it’s an extremely experimental brew that we’ve never attempted before! It’s going to be weird and awesome if we pull it off!”

Foolproof Brewing has a slew of new releases lined up. They’ll unveil Ocean State IPA, a “hazy session” brew (4.6% ABV) in draft, six-packs and 15-packs; they’re aiming for a late-September release. There’s a new collaboration – Badfish Pale Ale (brewed with blood orange) – made with input from the Sublime tribute band; the release party is at the Ocean Mist in Matunuck on September 20. Pickleodeon will soon be available in stores, and Peanut Butter Raincloud just made its triumphant return. And Foolproof has brewed a special beer – “a fruity, light, refreshing and very aromatic pale ale” – for the Autumnfest in Woonsocket on Columbus Day weekend.

Nichole and Jason at Crooked Current are ready for sweater weather. They’ll be tapping Pumpkin Maple Ale – cited by Boston.com as one of the 10 best seasonal beers – any day now. It will join fan favorites such as the Neapolitan Brown Ale, Horchata Cream Ale, Oatmeal Raisin Stout and many others, throughout autumn. And follow the CC social media for news re: a special release to mark their five-year anniversary in September! The time, it flies!

The inaugural Pawtucket Craft Crawl will wend its way through that beer-soaked burg from September 22 to 28. If you get you passport card stamped at all six destinations – the Guild, Foolproof, Crooked Current, Smug Brewery, Rhode Island Spirits and White Dog Distilling – you’ll score a commemorative glass. Go to restaurantweekpcf.com/craft-crawl-2019 for specifics on drink specials and other ephemera.

Apponaug Brewing Company will celebrate its first anniversary (the time, it flies!) on October 6 at their lovely Warwick home. ABC will be pouring special barrel-aged offerings plus favorite offerings from the past year. There will be lots of swag giveaways, and guests can enjoy treats from the full menu. And on September 15 from 2 to 4pm, they’ll debut a lemongrass saison made with oysters from 401 Oyster Company, which will be serving buck-a-shuck breachway oysters at the bash (apponaugbrewing.com).

Shaidzon Beer Company will stage another LAGERFEST! every weekend in October at their West Kingston HQ, with a savory series of brews – Buffalo Czech-Pilsner; Oktoberfest, a märzen lager; Schwarzbier; Bock, a mystery lager; and Abandoned Hope, a fresh-hopped American lager (with hops from their neighbors at Hope Hops Yard) – and live music and food vendors (shaidzonbeer.com).

Newport Vineyards/Taproot Brewing Company is hosting a big weekend in the midst of spooky season, featuring its 4th Annual Halloween CarnEvil Celebration on October 25 from 7 to 11pm (a costume party with music and dancing and etc.) and the 4th Annual Harvest Festival on the 26th and 27th from Noon to 5pm (with grape-stomping and pie-eating contests, plus beer and wine tastings, natch). Hit newportvineyards.com/events for alla the details.

And to stretch the seasonal theme a bit, we were stoked to hear that Chomp Kitchen and Drinks, the superb burger-and-beer-centric mecca in Warren, will be opening a second location at 117 Ives St in Providence’s Fox Point ’hood. Owner Sam Glynn tells us that he’s “targeting the end of the year, or early 2020 opening. We’ll have 12 to 15 rotating beers on draft plus an assortment of cans and bottles, and will continue to source the best beer in Rhode Island, including more collaborations, like the Chompy Waters White IPA we did with Ragged Island. The food menu will be the same as Warren, with some location-specific items that will allow the chefs some creative freedom.” Get updates at chompri.com.

Yikes – we’re busting the word-count-barrier here, so let’s speed through the compendium of Annual Big Fall Beer Bashes (check future Got Beer? entries for expanded coverage):

The PawSox Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival welcomes 30 breweries and 26 mobile eateries to McCoy Stadium on Saturday, September 14, from 6:30 to 10pm; get tix and more info at milb.com/pawtucket/events/food-truck-craft-beer

The 7th Annual Stadium Beer Fest, a fundraiser for the majestic theater on Monument Square in Woonsocket, will take place on Thursday, September 26 from 6 to 8:30pm. The bash features unlimited sampling from breweries (including Foolproof, Lops, Ravenous, Revival and Whalers) and vineyards and culinary treats; check the list-in-progress and get tix at stadiumtheatre.com

Oktoberfest 2019 is at the German American Cultural Society (78 Carter Ave, Pawtucket) on September 28 (Noon to 11pm) and September 29 (Noon to 5pm). Skip the trip to Munich and get oom-pahed with beer and brats and wursts and music and folk dancing (gacsri.org).

The 11th annual Beervana Fest will be its first-ever two-session affair, doubling your pleasure on Saturday (also a first), October 26 from 1 to 4:30pm and 6 to 9:30pm at Rhodes-On-the-Pawtuxet. You know how they roll: There will be unlimited sampling of more than 250 beers from stellar local and national and international wizards. Tix are available at beervanafest.com

For more beer news, check Lou’s blog, bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com, or follow @BottlesCansRI.




Got Beer? Suds Tsunami: Are we approaching peak beer?

Last week, the Brewers Association (BA), the trade organization that represents small and independent American craft brewers, posted its national midyear stats for 2019. Production volume increased 4%, which has been the pace for the past few years. Bart Watson, the BA’s chief economist, noted that “the majority of growth continues to come from microbreweries, taprooms and brewpubs, whereas the distribution landscape remains more challenging for regional craft brewers.”

Here are some crunchable numbers (as of June 30): There are 7,480 craft breweries, an increase of 1,016 from last year’s midpoint – and there are still 2,500 to 3,000 more beer destinations in the planning stages (peak beer is on the horizon). In the last few issues, we’ve been yammering about the sales limits, which are hindering the growth of RI beermakers (we won’t trot out the data again; hit the archive for the details). If you want to learn more about what you can do the help beat the drum for a better beer culture ’round here, chat up your friendly brewer, join the various RI craft pages on Facebook and other socials, and gear up for petition-signing and legislator-contacting and responsible rabble-rousing when the General Assembly convenes at the start of 2020, which is sure to be a momentous (and terrifying) year.

But hey, let’s stay positive, as the Hold Steady encourage us to be, and roll out some beer news from a few of our stellar neighborhood beer merchants:

The crew at Providence Brewing Company will unveil the winnahs in their #ShowUsYourInk contest, which was inspired by their new release Brut Kettle Sour. Efren Hidalgo reports, “We had over 1,000 contestants worldwide submit their incredible body art, but had to limit it to local RI, CT and MA residents. We let our followers and their friends and families decide on the top four contestants. We just had a photoshoot with renowned photojournalist Stew Milne; each one of the winners will be showcased on a can with their personal story. We’ll be releasing them in 4-packs in the coming weeks.”

The Craft: Rhode Island, a documentary about the 401 beer scene, debuted at the Rhode Island International Film Festival last week; more screenings are likely to take place at some of the larger taprooms in the state. You can watch the trailer and get schedule updates at eleven-ri.com/craft

Apponaug Brewing Company has been hopping! Beermaster Justin Tisdale has been spending lots of brewing time getting ready for fall. So far he has an unnamed Wee Heavy Strong that has been spending the summer months enjoying some barrel-aging. Fest or Famine, a seasonal Festbier, will be making its way to a fermentation tank over the next few weeks. Shhh, a new barrel-aged beer will debut at the 5th Annual Ocean State Beer Fest, which is happening at Grey Sail in Westerly on September 8 (tickets were still available at presstime!). The kitchen has also been very busy, welcoming a new head chef, Leanne Ucci, and sous chef, Tom Oulette; look for some exciting changes to the ABC fall menu. And head to their suburban oasis on the banks of the Pawtuxet River on Sunday, August 18, at 11am for Yoga + Beer (pre-registration required; do it at facebook.com/ApponaugBrewingCo).

And Josh and Chip at Shaidzon Beer Company are bringing back For No One, a double IPA, any day now, and a new to-be-named Belgian Pale Ale on August 23. And the live music series will move to the new patio, with sets by Third Signal on the 23rd and Rival Roots on the 24th; check their socials for the Labor Day weekend lineup.

For more beer news, check Lou’s blog, bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com, or follow @BottlesCansRI on the Twitter machine.




Got Beer? Making Oatmeal: RI brewers are hard at work

In our previous “Got Beer?” outing, we were waiting for Governor Raimondo to sign S-0620, the bill that increased the brewery sales-to-go allowance to 384 ounces, up from the former US-lowest 288 ounces (which is still the limit in Alabama and South Carolina). Gina got the pen out on July 15, and you can now purchase 24 16-ounce cans-to-go (we broke the news on the blog listed at the end of this column). But, as we’ve noted quite often in this space, the ounce-cap is hindering the growth of the 401 breweries. The crew at Tilted Barn Brewery offered this perspective:

“We feel [the small ounce-limit boost] will likely make it difficult to return to negotiations for a proper increase after this … one was just granted. We also felt the need to educate our customers who may be unfamiliar with the limitations we face as a RI brewery, especially compared with our New England neighbors. Since most of us are visual learners, we thought a picture may help. [It] shows what customers are allowed to purchase at breweries for all six New England states:⁣ VT, NH and MA: unlimited⁣; ME: 5+ cases⁣; CT: 3 cases⁣; RI: 1 case⁣. If you disagree with this disparity, voice your opinion and contact your local senators and representatives to let them know!” Go to rilin.state.ri.us to get the contact info and get involved!

Lops Brewing had its grand opening last week in Woonsocket (122 North Main St). Sean Lopolito debuted his first five beers and celebrated his long-awaited ribbon-cutting; at lopsbrewing.com he noted that it was “the culmination of an 18-month journey” and fulfilled his wish to “translate my love of beer, brewing, friends and family into a profession.” Cheers to Sean and his team!

Let’s get festive (again)! In our previous “Got Beer?” outing, we guessed –  incorrectly – that tix for the fifth annual Ocean State Beer Festival would sell out before the issue hit the streets and the html hit the web, since they went poof in a few hours in 2018. But as we type this edition of “Got Beer?” tix are still available! Color us gobsmacked! On Saturday August 18, get your oompah on at Foolproof Brewing’s seventh annual Augtoberfest. Jester-branded steins will be filled with the fest’s namesake märzen (and many other top-notch offerings) at the Pawtucket biergarten, and you can revel in the German spirit with music, food and all kindsa carrying-on from 3-7pm. Hit foolproofbrewing.com for tix. The Rhode Island Brewers Guild’s showcase event will be at Grey Sail Brewing in Westerly on September 8. Head to ribrewersguild.org and follow the link to the ticket site (but we’re in that temporal time warp again, deadline-wise, so… ). But we are certain that tix for the Brew At the Zoo bash at Roger Williams Park are all gone. Maybe the RI brewers should rent a llama or giraffe.

 We didn’t scare up too much local beer news for your early August perusal; most of the brewers were too busy chopping down trees to get fresh wood for the fifth-anniversary beers they’ll be whipping up for the Ocean State Beer Festival. But our pals Chip and Josh at Shaidzon Beer Company told us that they’ll be re-introducing No Days Off on August 9. The New England IPA debuted soon after the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl victory in honor of their efforts and the mantra expressed a few years ago by their head coach. The beer is double dry-hopped with 100% Citra hops; it shows with a hazy golden complexion, pronounced citrus aromas and flavors launching out of the glass. Go get some!

 For more beer news, check Lou’s blog, bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com, or follow @BottlesCansRI on the Twitter machine.




Got Beer?: More Beer Is Better! A new beer bill hits the gov’s desk

Two issues ago, we celebrated the third anniversary of the bettering of Rhode Island’s beer laws while bemoaning the fact that our 401 indie brewers have the lowest beer-to-go ounce limit – 288 per customer – in the US (tied with Alabama and South Carolina). We also noted that the General Assembly had considered bills proposing a small bump to 384 ounces – a case of 24 tallboys –- and unlimited sales, but they didn’t gain traction. But the tide turned after that column went live! A bill raising the beer-to-go limit was passed by the Senate and House on June 28, allowing breweries to sell a full case of 16-ounce cans, nudging up to the 384 threshold. At press time, the law hadn’t been signed by the gov; we won’t bore you with the procedural details, but we hope that the new cap has gone into effect. (Editor’s note: S.620 was signed into law by the governor on July 15.) We’ll be helping to push for more legislative boosts for the Rhody beer scene down the road…

We’ll be helping to push for more legislative boosts for the Rhody beer scene down the road…

Let’s get festive! At press time, tix were still available for the Craft Brew Races extravaganza on Saturday, July 20 at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, featuring a 5K walk/run and a three-hour brew fest, featuring 40-plus breweries, including more than a dozen 401ers. Check craftbrewraces.com/newport for availability. And we’re guessing that tix for the fifth annual Ocean State Beer Festival (OSBF) have sold out by now. (They went live on June 15; we’re really falling between the at-press-time gaps this time around. But the presale heads-up was posted at the blog cited at the end of this column, so mayhaps you should visit it now and then and/or follow our Twitter activity. End of shameless plug.) The Rhode Island Brewers Guild’s showcase event is returning to the site of the first OSBF – Grey Sail Brewing in Westerly – and the hook for the fifth anniversary is wood, which will be incorporated into the fest-only brews that will be poured on September 8. Go to ribrewersguild.org and hope for a miracle, ticket-wise.

We didn’t scare up too much local beer news; most of the brewers were too busy setting off post-4th half-price Phantom Fireworks to let us in on their late July happenings. But a coupla 401ers gave us some tidbits: Efren Hidalgo and his madcap crew at Providence Brewing Company are running a contest called #ShowUsYourInk. It’s intended to get local RI, MA and CT Providence Brewing Company followers, their friends and/or family to send in pics of their body art. The top four entries that get the most likes, loves, tweets and replies will be contacted, and they’ll set up a photo shoot to showcase their beautiful body art on a special release beer, Tattoo of Blood, a raspberry and cherry sour slated for release before the end of July. Each can will showcase one of the winners with a short bio and story behind their winning tats. Get more encouragement at facebook.com/pvdbc

And Chip and Josh at Shaidzon Beer Company plan to keep Buffalo Czech going throughout the summer and will be re-introducing Little Bella, a dry-hopped blonde ale, on July 19.

Are you looking for a palate-pleasing new book to absorb whilst sipping your sublime summer libations? Sure you are! J. Ryan Stradal’s The Lager Queen of Minnesota (out July 23) is a generation-spanning novel that movingly pushes a lot of buttons. It’s a warm, engaging, funny and wise tale about families, grudges, guilt, love and loss – and the joys of baking pies and making beer. A major plot element follows a woman who works her way up at a craft brewery, determinedly concocts a head-turning IPA, and strikes out on her own (with the help of her elders). The Lager Queen of Minnesota is a compelling read, and its resolution is well-earned and uplifting – a welcome respite in the midst of these turbulent times.

And we wish the very best to Pete Larrivee, who has been Getting Beer and supporting the 401 beer world from its formative years through its current flowering. We hope to be welcoming him back to these pages ASAP. Cheers, Pete!

For more beer news, check Lou’s blog, bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com, or follow @BottlesCansRI on the Twitter machine.




Got Beer? Liberation Libations: 13 Colonies Brewers Festival raises a glass and new breweries belly up

We’ve collected a wide range of beer news for youse … here it be:

It’s been an issue or three since we’ve told you about another brewery joining the Rhody ranks. So let’s end that drought with the newest kid on the 401 beer block: Bravo Brewing Company. Chris Mishoe will be setting up shop in on Main Street in the quaint village of Pascoag in Burrillville. The Bravo PR sheet notes that they will focus on “globally inspired, locally crafted beers in both the new American and old world traditional styles. Bravo is committed to being the gateway to craft by making their taproom approachable and inclusive, and ensuring there is something on tap for everyone, whether you are new to beer, a microbrewery enthusiast or a big brand loyalist.” They hope to be open early in September, but you can probably add a month or so to that goal, given the hiccups and delays that usually crop up.

Speaking of The-Waiting-Is-The-Hardest-Part, the waiting is almost over for Sean Lopolito. On June 27, he received his manufacturer’s (brewer’s) license from the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, which makes Lops Brewing the Official Newest 401 Brewery. Sean’s inaugural beers are in the tanks at his Woonsocket HQ (122 North Main St) and will be pouring at the grand opening weekend on July 27 (noon – 10pm) and 28 (noon – 6pm). Check facebook.com/lopsbrewing for more details.

And it’s waaaaay down the road, but there will be a new beer fest on the local calendar in 2020. The inaugural 13 Colonies Brewers Festival will take place at Mount Hope Farm in Bristol on June 28 (the fourth anniversary of the enactment of the better beer laws; fingers crossed that an even better beer law will be passed in 2020; check our previous column at motifri.com for deep background). The fest will spotlight breweries from the original 13 colonies (Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island). It’s the brainchild of Nils Weldy; the Barrington native says, “Our mission is to deliver a cheers-worthy event that draws guests to a specific, historically relevant location through the shared appreciation of American craft beer, under a theme we all remember learning about in history class while supporting an organization that truly defines what it means to be a patriot.” Some of the proceeds will benefit the New England chapter of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Early bird tix (235 of ’em, in honor of the 235th annual Bristol 4th of July Parade in 2020) are on sale now via their website (13coloniesbrewfest.com), which will be updating participating breweries for the next 51 weeks; the rest of the 1776 tickets will go on sale on Veterans Day (November 11). Save the dates!

Lightning round: We bid a sad and fond farewell to 84 Aleworks Brewing & Tavern, which closed on June 30. The Westerly spot had been open for 13 years and launched its brewing operations in December … Foolproof Brewing Company has started shipping its wares across the Atlantic Ocean, with cans and drafts being distributed in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Huzzah to Nick and his ambitious team! And tix for their Augtoberfest, on Sunday, August 18 from 3 – 7pm, will be available any day now; check their socials for updates … Shaidzon Beer Company will be bringing back Le Table-Petite Saison next week. It’s one of the beers they brewed a few weeks after they opened in 2017. It’s a light, low-ABV saison with a bit of tartness and a dry finish … Community Bruin in West Greenwich will be open on Tuesdays from 5 – 7:30pm for your summer sippin’ pleasure, plus the usual Fridays from 4 – 7pm and Saturdays from 1 – 4pm. CB has added S’mores Stout, NASA (a hybrid IPA/Scottish ale) and Independence (a raspberry cream ale) to its lineup.

For more beer news, check Lou’s blog, bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com, or follow @BottlesCansRI.




Got Beer? The People Have Spoken! We demand more beer

June 28 is the third anniversary of the momentous day when Governor Gina Raimondo signed House Bill 8100 Substitute B and Senate Bill 3053 Substitute A – which, as you certainly must know by now, allowed breweries to sell 288 ounces of beer for off-premise consumption (in any combo of growlers, bottles and cans) — a significant increase from the former 72-ounce limit that had been approved in 2013 – and sell 36 ounces in-house. The impact was immediate, with breweries expanding their hours, building taprooms and hiring more beer-makers and pourers. And the increased limits powered already-budding brewers to expand beyond their modest starter homes (hiya, Proclamation and Long Live Beerworks), expand capacity (yo, Tilted Barn) and give ambitious homebrewers the economic incentive to go pro.

It was a welcome and long overdue boost for the state’s burgeoning and now-booming craft beer industry – and a far cry from the mid-2000s, when Newport Storm (now Newport Craft Brewing), which was the state’s lone brewery, started its campaign to legalize growler sales. The modest proposal was met with firm resistance from retailers and wholesalers (and their lobbyists), who didn’t want to upend the decades-old three-tier distribution system. Reflecting on the 2013 72-ounces bill, a 401 brewer said, “It was a [long] fight to get the 72 ounces, and a big concern that we had to overcome was that if we were allowed that much, we’d start looking for more. It is frustrating that just about any other business can manufacture and sell their product, while alcohol producers need to do business with one hand tied behind our backs.”

And now, three years after the 288-ounce limit (the equivalent of a 24-count case of 12-ounce containers) became the norm, RI breweries are hoping to build their businesses with another boost – or elimination – of the sales limit. Thirty-seven states have no ceiling on beer sales; the Ocean State is at the bottom of the restriction list, sharing the 288-ounce sales-shackles with Alabama and South Carolina. Connecticut just left the 288 Club, upping its limit to 1,152 ounces – aka nine gallons, aka three 24-count cases of 16-ounce cans. There were bills proposing a small bump to 384 ounces – a case of 24 tallboys – and unlimited sales, but they didn’t gain traction due to the aforementioned firm resistance. So the drive for even better beer laws – and the resultant betterment of beer business and beerployment and beer tourism – is being readied for the 2020 legislative calendar. We’ll start drafting an update of the “Better Beer Laws” petition, which we launched on the Bottles & Cans blog in 2015, and rally the troops.

But in the glass-half-full department, the 401 beer scene has leaped and bounded and grown and diversified in the last three years. Let’s celebrate that progress with a bit of news from some of 401’s finest: Long Live Beerworks has partnered with Bootleg Biology, a Nashville-based yeast project, to design Thunderhorse!, a Kveik double IPA that will be released in celebration of Homebrew Con (at the Convention Center June 27-29; see our previous column  for details). Armando DeDona tells us, “Bootleg gave us their Aurora Kveik yeast and we hopped it Long Live-style. We used generous amounts of Citra, Simcoe Cryohops and Topaz.” The first pouring will be on Homebrew Com Eve (Wednesday June 26) at Long Live’s fab new home (longlivebeerworks.com) … Shaidzon Beer Company launches Summer-For-Real on June 21 with the release of Longest Daze, a double IPA … Revival Brewing has opened its patio/beer garden as is celebrating with new and revived releases: Savage Gent, a New England IPA; Clever Girl, a Paloma-style sour; Star Child, a Pride month pilsner; and the already-entrenched HAMR Oceanic State Pale Ale … And Apponaug Brewing Company’s beer garden, on the beautiful Pawtuxet River, is now open, with seating for 50-plus folks (and their dogs), games (giant Jenga and corn hole) and summer-friendly beers, including Raw Materials (a Berliner Weisse with raspberry), Flywheel Wheat (with pineapple), Lonely At the Top (a Kolsch) and a rotating selection of IPAs. Hit the Rhody beer trail today!

For more beer news, check Lou’s blog, bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com, or follow @BottlesCansRI.




Got Beer? You Thirsty for Summer? Check out these beer events to keep yourself quenched all summer long

’Tis the season for beer gardens and patios and fests and a deluge of summer fests and fun. Pop a top and dive in!

On Sunday, June 16 (thisclose to official summer) from 2 – 5pm, the Beervana folks and the RI Food Fights crew will team up again for the 3rd Annual Bacon & Beer Fest. This year’s bash at Cranston Print Works (1381 Cranston St) features 28 bacon-packed temptations by local kitchen magicians – from noodles to waffles to pizza to cheesesteaks and two dozen other tasty treats – paired with palate-enhancing liquid from local and national brewers. The complete list of beermakers and food-preppers is on the fest’s Eventbrite page (tix were still available at presstime).

RI will be hosting the American Homebrewers Association’s Homebrew Con from June 27-29 at the Convention Center. The 41st annual event will gather 2,900 attendees and 50 homebrew clubs for a full slate of workshops, presentations, book signings, awards – and parties. The commemorative beer – Wicked Smooth, a milkshake IPA – is a collab by Grey Sail and Heavy Seas. Tix are available for the “Social Package” if you’re not all in on the educational offerings; get all the details at homebrewcon.org. And check the socials the week of the event – there will likely be many special events (and brews) to draw the conventioneers to the 401 taprooms.

On Saturday, July 20, the Craft Brew Races hotfoots it into Fort Adams State Park in Newport. A 5K walk/run is capped with a three-hour brew fest, featuring 40-plus breweries, including many members of the 401 circle of beer life. It’s big fun under the big tent. Get the details at craftbrewraces.com/newport

In the dog days of August, you might start hankering for some cooler temps. On Saturday the 18th, get a jump on sweater weather and Oktoberfest (which takes over Munich from September 21 through October 6 – book your flight now!) at Foolproof’s seventh annual Augtoberfest. Jester-branded steins will overflow with the fest’s namesake märzen (and many other choice offerings) at the Pawtucket biergarten, and you can catch the German spirit with music, food and related fun from 3 – 7pm. And to skew the chronological order a bit, Foolproof will entice the early-arriving Homebrew Con-ventioneers – and you, dear reader – with a Crawfish Boil on June 26. Get updates on all-the-above at foolproofbrewing.com

On Saturday, August 24, Brew At the Zoo will take over Roger Williams Park Zoo with more than 170 beers from 80-plus breweries. People really like channeling their inner Dr. Dolittle and talking with the animals – tix sold out a month or so ahead of the 2018 gathering. This year’s admission slips will be on sale any day now at rwpzoo.org

The fifth annual Ocean State Beer Fest will take place in September in Westerly. Most of the 401 breweries will participate and, per usual, debut a “festival-only” beer. The date and venue will be revealed at ribrewersguild.org (and every other beery 401 social) soonish; last year tix sold out in less than 24 hours, so don’t dither when they go live!

And we encourage you to hit the road and experience the summery splendor of alla the 401 breweries, from the tiny Community Bruin to the massive Long Live Beerworks and every size in between. Get your RI Brewery Passport at ribrewersguild.com and get cool swag as a “reward” for your efforts! A coupla save-the-dates: On June 19 from 5 – 8pm, Taproot Brewing in Middletown is celebrating its first anniversary with a First Trip Around the Sun party. Click through facebook.com/taprootbeer to secure your free RSVP for the beer (and wine) tastings and music and games and food and swag raffle. You can toast the first day of the season at Shaidzon Beer Company’s Summer Solstice Weekend Party on June 21 and 22 at their solar-powered West Kingston HQ. Josh and Chip will host live music by Anna May and John  Fanning & the Curators and food by CUFFS Counter (facebook.com/shaidzonbeerco). And there will be new destinations along the 401 beer trail, including Beer On Earth settling in where Long Live usedtabe any day now, Twelve Guns Brewing firing up its fermenters in Bristol and Lops Brewing opening its doors in Woonsocket at the end of June/early July. Happy sipping!




Got Beer? All the Beer That’s Fit to Drink: Beer events are springing up like dandelions

LouPapineauBeerAs we noted a coupla issue ago, the folks at Narragansett Beer are looking into launching a multi-purpose attraction – a brewpub/taproom with other beery elements – in the building (owned by Brown University) next to the Hilton Garden Inn near India Point Park in Providence. A hearing for a special use permit was held on May 8. ‘Gansett prez Mark Hellendrung gave us a few deets post-hearing: “Obtaining a zoning variance to brew was one of the requirements of closing on the sale. So this was a major milestone in the process, which will take a few more months to complete. Assuming all goes well, we will purchase the building later this summer and begin work in September! Super-exciting.”

The “Hi, Neighbor!” crew will still be a partner with the Guild in Pawtucket, brewing seasonal offerings and keeping the creative juices flowing at its suite of offices.

Is it too soon for a Beervana Fest post? Nah! The 11th annual gathering at Rhodes-on-the-Pawtuxet will be literally bigger and better, with a coupla significant first-time-ever tweaks: a new day – Saturday, October 26 (see ya, Friday) – and two sessions (1 – 4:30pm and 6 – 9:30). Tix are on sale now at eventbrite.com. And while you’re clicking your way there, don’t sleep on tix for the Bacon & Beer Fest, the mashup hosted by Beervana and RI Food Fights, which is happening on June 16 at Cranston Print Works – they’re going fast!

Lightning round: Adam and Paul at Beer On Earth are making great progress at their new home on 425 West Fountain St in PVD (where Long Live usedtabe); there’s a refinished bar, a new mural, taster serving trays shaped like artist’s palettes (customized by local artists), and a sweet new logo. They have fingers crossed for a late May or early June opening; keep checking facebook.com/beeronearthbrew for the Grand Opening Announcement … Community Bruin, the tiny new brewery in West Greenwich, has added new hours: it’s now open on Friday from 4 – 7pm, and Saturdays from 1 – 4pm (communitybruin.com) … Ragged Island just released Liquid Hugs #9, made with El Dorado hops, and its latest iteration of Ripples Kettle Sour, infused with boysenberry, is coming soon … Shaidzon Beer Company is pouring a new batch of Never Tomorrow IPA and is debuting the eponymous Shaidzon Saison. And you can enjoy live music on Friday and Saturday the next coupla weeks at their cozy West Kingston HQ … Crooked Current is brewing up some warm weather treats, including Strawberry Blonde Ale, Blueberry American Wheat, and a new “tropical milkshake IPA,” Stay Woke, Rich, made with pineapple and mango. And the Oatmeal Rum Raisin Stout is still aging in the rum barrel from White Dog Distillery; check the CC socials to be the first to know when it’s ready for your sipping pleasure.

And ICYMI, the 14th annual American Craft Beer Week is running through May 19. So we have a crazy notion – you should celebrate with a craft beer or two. Just sayin’!

For more beer news, check Lou’s blog, bottlescansclaphands.wordpress.com, or follow @BottlesCansRI.